June 11, 2010
Before the KFC Double Down there was…the McGangBang. Two items from the McDonald’s, sandwiched within one another to create a sandwich where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We’re talking about a McChicken inside a double cheeseburger, chicken inside beef, McDonald’s inside McDonalds. This sandwich is NOT messing around.
I first read about this monstrosity on folie à choisauce, who personally recreated the McGangBang and lived to tell the tale. She even added her mark on the sandwich by adding fries to the mix, and dubbed it the “Killa Kali” McGangBang (i.e. the KKMGB).
From the moment I read that post, I never forgot about the KKMGB…ever. It was like the thought of the KKMGB was lurking in the back of my mind, jumping out whenever a McDonald’s came into sight. Sooner or later, I had to give in.
I wish I could say that I’ve only tried the KKMGB once but, sadly, that’s not the case.
I wish I could claim I was drunk but, sadly, that’s also not the case.
(If this totally kills my credibility as a food blogger, I completely understand.)
My first time was accidental. I was working in the office and had rushed downstairs to grab a quick bite for lunch. Halfway through my meal, I realized I had all the components for a KKMGB. Did I dare? I dared.
My second time was premeditated. Somehow, during a normal conversation at work, I had convinced others to join me in trying the KKMGB. We made plans to build it the following day at lunch, with one slight adjustment: The original McGangBang was based on two items from the $1 menu, coming together to create something worth more than $2. As double cheeseburgers are now $1.19, we agreed to use a McDouble instead to keep that original spirit alive.
($3.19+tax later, I found myself with all the tools to make a KKMGB.)
With a crowd starting to form in the office lunchroom, eyeing our goods and whispering of the events to come, we built our KKMGBs and took a bite. (Yes, I actually ATE it.)
(“What does it taste like…?”)
If McDonald’s had a generic flavor, the KKMGB would taste like that. The flavor of fake chicken was dwarfed by the flavor of burger. It was a little dry and needed more ketchup, some BBQ sauce, or maybe sweet and sour sauce…SOMETHING.
Afterwards, I felt disgusted. I was completely unproductive the rest of the afternoon. We looked up the nutritional facts – 1040 calories, 47 grams of fat. I told myself I wouldn’t eat dinner that night. (Sadly, I did eat again.)
Note to self: I am NOT doing this again.
May 2, 2010
I’m an accountant. I know numbers, I can do math. Check it out:
FOUR at the Checkers Downtown
– Only offered on the 4th weekday in week (i.e. Thursday).
– Good for 4 hours, from 4-8PM.
– Four drinks at $4 each.
– Four plates at $4 each.
– Eight (not four!) new things to try.
– Even if you order all four drinks and all four plates, you’re still under $40 before tip.
(See why FOUR is my favorite number?)
I was originally going to wait to write this review until I’ve been four times but I just couldn’t wait. Plus, if I’ve been there twice, for two different weeks, and two is halfway to four and…
…Okay. Enough with the math. Let’s get down to the review.
If Checkers served mediocre food and mediocre drinks for $4, FOUR would still be considered a good deal. But, Checkers doesn’t serve mediocre food and drinks – they serve delicious food and well-mixed drinks, which then makes FOUR a great deal. I mean, check out these two menus and tell me this isn’t a great deal…
FOUR – 4.15.10 – DRINK SPONSOR: OCEAN VODKA
From talking to the bartenders, hard alcohol sponsored nights are more popular than the wine nights, and for good reason – Checkers cocktails are really good. This particular Thursday, I had a refreshing cucumber-mint cocktail and their version of a Salty Dog, my personal favorite for the night.
Typically made with gin and grapefruit juice, this particular drink was made with the sponsored Ocean Vodka instead and included a hint of rosemary as well. I liked the slightly tart, very citrusy grapefruit against the salty rimmed glass.
As for food, my first dish – an endive salad – was very similar to one I had at Craft, with its combination of endive, apple and blue cheese and walnuts.
Dish 2/4: Grilled Caledonian Prawn
Of my second dish, the cara cara orange was my favorite component, adding acidity and brightness. I was also happy to see they left the heads on the three large shrimp (the head is the best part!).
Dish 3/4: Halibut Cheeks in Red Thai Curry Stew
My dining companion and I ordered two of every dish except the halibut, which I began to regret after I had a taste. Described as being in a red Thai curry sauce, the curry was actually quite demure – not at all spicy or overpowering as one would expect – and allowed the fish and vegetables to really shine.
Dish 4/4: Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly
Typically fatty and melt in your mouth tender, the braised pork belly was instead crispy, as if it was fried. I expected this to be my favorite that day, but ended up being my least due to the texture issue.
FOUR – 4.29.10 – DRINK SPONSOR: SUMMERLAND WINERY
Although hard alcohol nights are more popular than wine nights, that’s not to say the wine night’s aren’t good too. Sometimes you just want to swirl a glass of pinot rather than down a martini.
As previously mentioned, FOUR offers four dishes for $4 a piece. This particular day I just wasn’t feeling the second dish on the menu, a white bean soup with chorizo. Therefore, I only ordered the other three.
Dish 1/4: Caledonia Prawn Scampi
The sauce was flavorful but not heavy and the pasta was cooked al dente. It was supposed to pair with the chardonnay (which I also ordered, pictured above) but I enjoyed the food much more than the wine.
Dish 3/4: Maitake Mushroom Toast
The mushroom toast was a little too rich for my taste. The hearty mushrooms would have been enough, but the mushroom butter was almost overwhelming. Additionally, the toast was lost underneath the piles of mushrooms and was slightly soggy from the butter.
Dish 4/4: Pan-seared Sonoma Duck Breast
The duck was my favorite of the four for this week – I ordered two orders. My first order was spot on – the duck was tender, not dry. The dates were huge (and almost looked like medallions of sweet potato). Out of all the dishes, I felt that this one embodied the wine theme the best.
I know some of you are probably still in disbelief. “…Wait, what? High quality for a low price?” Stop pinching yourself, it’s true. Yes, some dishes may be hit or miss but for $4, you really can’t go wrong.
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April 16, 2010
I used to be Philippe’s girl. Sawdust on the floors, fiery horseradish mustard, double dipped French dip sandwiches – I would rant about it to my friends, and bring those who were close to visit. But that was a more simplistic time and…well…people change.
I’m Cole’s girl now.
There are so many things I love more about Cole’s than Philippe’s. It’s open until 1:30AM on the weekends, perfect for a late-night bite. The crowd at Cole’s is a little more hip, mainly because of its close proximity to other DTLA hotspots. Cole’s has, not just one bar, but TWO bars (if you include The Varnish). Lastly, Cole’s atomic pickles totally trumps Philippe’s pickles any day, especially when paired with a side of their bacon potato salad.
A spicy crunch…
A smokey bite…
THAT is the combination that I crave late at night.
As for Cole’s French dips, over time I’ve learned to like them. I definitely appreciate the side of au jus, but there are nights I long for Philippe’s sinus clearing mustard. Additionally, their sandwiches aren’t as savory – let’s just say I’ve never craved a Cole’s French dip but I’ve definitely craved a Philippe’s one. However, I find myself at Cole’s on a monthly basis (and Philippe’s?…I can’t remember my last time).
Philippe’s, our time together was sweet while it lasted.
Cole’s, I’ll see you soon.
118 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
April 14, 2010
I’ve had a tough busy season. I’ve been working 17 hour days (one of those days being my 25th birthday), spending my waking hours in a cold, white room and my sleeping hours in an old hotel.
After this is all over, all I want to do is go up to a bartender, look him in the eye, say “I want ____”, and have him mix me exactly what I want.
Ever since it opened more than a year ago, I’ve been meaning to try Copa. I would hear friends describe Copa’s expertly mixed cocktails, great vibe and attractive bartenders and wonder when I would find an excuse to drink on the Westside. Thanks to Victoria of Vixen’s LA Happy Hours though, I FINALLY found an excuse to experience Copa:
Happy Depression happy hour.
$5 drink specials.
Sounds like a good excuse to me!
First two drinks I ordered, the asian pear cocktail and a pisco sour, were from their regular priced drink menu and their happy hour, respectively. Both were well mixed, balanced in flavor, but not quite what I was craving that night. Then, remembering the original stories that lured me to Copa, I decided to order a custom crafted cocktail as my last drink.
I gave the bartender free reign over my cocktail, only dictating that I wanted vodka, cucumber (I’ve had a recent craving for all cocktails cucumber) and some kind of fruit in it. What he concocted was amazing – A combination of lemon, lime, mandarin orange, cucumber and lychee. The inital flavor was refreshing, with the cool cucumber and the bright citrus, but slowly mellowed out to end with the lychee. Everyone who had a taste was caught off guard with the lychee ending – it was deliciously unique.
Pick your liquor, they’ll make you a drink – Bartender’s Choice.
Now I’m a girl who enjoys a surprise now and then (especially when I’m craving a drink) so when I saw that typed on the bottom of the cocktail list, I knew that’s what I would be having that night. I asked for my drink to be made of gin (not my typical, but I was feeling adventurous that night) and was brought the following:
My Bartender’s Choice was a combination of gin, lime juice and honey. Somewhat sweet but still sophisticated, I would have to say that was the most enjoyable gin based cocktail I’ve had to date.
118 E Sixth St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Like I mentioned before, after this week, all I want to do is a bartender who can mix me exactly what I want. Basically I’m either going to The Varnish or Copa D’Oro…or both. These guys make a damn good drink.
April 1, 2010
I went to Starry Kitchen three times this week.
On Day 1, I brought a coworker – he went back again the next day.
On Day 2, I brought a friend – she went back, not just the next day, but also the day after.
If that’s not enough to convince you Starry Kitchen serves good food, continue reading…
Never been to Starry Kitchen before? That’s okay. Ordering is easy:
1. Choose your meat.
2. Choose the vessel.
3. There is no Step 3. You’re done.
One of the reasons I love Starry Kitchen so much (and why I’ve been able to eat there three times this week) is because there’s so much variety! Five protein options grace their chalkboard menu on any given day, with five vessels in which to eat them. You can get your protein sandwiched in a banh mi-like sandwich, wrapped in a tortilla, on a plate with rice or atop two different types of salads.
Each week, one of these protein options rotates off the menu; each week, a new protein option rotates onto the menu. It’s a novel concept and one I appreciate because it means that, five weeks from now, I’ll have a completely new menu to choose from. However, it also means that, once a protein rotates off the menu, you’ll have to wait a good month and a half until it comes back. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?)
This week’s “bye-bye” option (as they’ve dubbed it) were the Taiwanese Fried Pork Chops. Their “hi-hi” option (as I’ve now dubbed it) were the SK Spicy Crab Cakes. I ordered them both…Twice.
Day 1 – SK Spicy Crab Cake Banh Mi; Side of Jap Chae
I still can’t get over the fact that these crab cakes were made from imitation crab. Imitation crab typically evokes an imagine of string cheese made of fake seafood with that disgusting dyed pink outside. This was flaky and actually tasted real. It was perfect in the soft baguette.
As a side note, their jap chae (i.e. glass noodles) is RIDICULOUS. I know it’s just glass noodles and mushrooms cooked in soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with scallions, but there’s got to be more to this recipe than that. A secret ingredient of some sort…like crack. Yeah, crack. (God, it’s so addicting.)
Day 2 – Taiwanese Fried Pork Chop Wrap; Side of Jap Chae
Another perfect combination of meat and vessel. Especially when you add fresh jalapenos to the breaded pork and the tortilla. (Be warned: those jalapenos have a kick to them though!)
Day 3 – Taiwanese Fried Pork Chops on a Thai Cobb Salad
In order to mix it up, I got a salad for the day. The Thai cobb salad includes cucumber, avocado, tomato, egg, blue cheese and bacon in this light honey sesame dressing. It was a perfectly healthy salad…until I added fried pork to it. (Mmm…fried pork.)
Enough about their food, I have to say the best thing about Starry Kitchen is that everyone who works there is genuinely nice. Nguyen, the guy you can’t miss working the front of the house, has an energetic personality, which is so welcome after a morning of Outlook emails and conference calls. His better half, Thi, who mans the kitchen, is quiet but when she smiles, she cares. (You can just see it in her eyes!)
There’s real heart behind this restaurant, and I’ve fallen in love with that. It just makes me want to introduce people to Starry Kitchen, to introduce them to Nguyen and Thi and show them what this little establishment has to offer. I’ve already introduced two…Can I introduce you too?